1.Pumpkin string art.
We hosted October’s 4-H meeting and had the kids make string art on pumpkins with small nails and embroidery floss. No mess! We then donated the pumpkins to the cancer treatment center at the local hospital. The pumpkin above is a work-in-progress, meant to be a spider web. The other was done by another 4-Her. For the toddler, I gave him a pumpkin with golf tees pounded just through the tough skin and let him pound away with a toy hammer–great for building hand-eye coordination–and just plain fun!
2. Hand-print ghosts.
Paint the child’s hand white, except for thumb and press onto black paper. When dry, cut out and add googley eyes or draw on with black marker. Punch hole in the top to hang from yarn or string. The example is done by my 21-month old, but it is fun for any age.
3. Paper-plate jack-o-lanterns.
This one is fairly self-explanatory and can be adapted for different levels of children’s development. For the toddler, I had him paint and help me with cutting the eyes and nose, and stick on the face. My first-grader would do the whole thing himself. I did not have a good toddler paint brush that day, so I got a little creative with a wide pencil and some yarn!
4. Sucker ghosts.
A classic. My mom had us make these ghosts for Halloween when I was little. We make them two different ways. One way is to use a sucker for the head, placing the round part in the middle of a Kleenex, gather the tissue around the sucker and tie a string around it tight to the stick. Unless you do some creative tying around the head, they hang a little upside down. To vary our ghosts, we made some with a second, balled-up tissue for a head. My first-grader carefully added faces (not needed), and we hung them from our curtain rods and light fixture.
5. Felt jack-o-lantern faces.
This fun idea is courtesy of Donna Henning, who led a workshop I attended called Leapin’ Literacy. We took home four children’s activities that night, three of which I will introduce in another post–one of them was
6. Pumpkin carving.
To get the right balance between safety/nice looking pumpkins and letting the kids do the jack-o-lanterns how they wanted, my first-grader sketched the faces on paper, then I transferred them to the pumpkins with pencil.
8. The Book of Horrors.
My older boy actually came up with this one on his own while I was getting some cleaning done. On the front cover, he wrote his name and titled it “The Book of Horrors,” and drew a picture of a ghost. Inside, he drew one spooky character on each page, with varying amounts of detail. This is a wonderful open-ended activity to encourage creativity and use of a pencil without having to concentrate on forming letters/words. He used an old steno pad, and if we do it again, I will fold several pieces of printer paper in half and staple them at the fold to make a soft-cover book. But there are other blank books to buy.
9. Erupting jack-o-lanterns. See my previous post Erupting Pumpkins to see details.
10. Hand-tracing bats.
We originally crafted bats like these at the Early Childhood Family Education Halloween party when my 6-year old was 18 mos. old and every year since. On a black piece of construction paper, trace both the child’s hands using chalk. Draw a similarly-sized head on the black paper using chalk (it will look a little like a cat’s head). Allow child to draw his or her own face on the bat head using the white chalk. Fangs are a nice touch. If you have them on hand, reinforcing stickers for hole-punched paper are a nice touch for the eyes. Glue the hands to the back side of the bat’s head. Tape up for a decoration or punch a hole in the top of the head to hang by a string. It’s a cute keepsake to keep hanging up year after year as they grow.